I have had many clients come to me with the exciting announcement that they are expecting…and then the question, “can I keep doing Pilates through my pregnancy?” The answer: YES! Pilates can be a great way to stay fit and strong throughout pregnancy, and a good Pilates instructor will know how to safely modify exercises and utilize special equipment as your pregnancy progresses.
Worried about losing your pre-pregnancy figure? Practicing Pilates regularly throughout your pregnancy is a great, low-impact way to safely tone and strengthen. You know those women who remain tiny throughout their pregnancy, toned arms, legs and booty and just the sweetest baby bump? Most of them are working for it. And that could totally be you if you commit to Pilates throughout your pregnancy, since Pilates builds long, lean muscle and tightens and tones the small muscles that hold everything else in.
But as you know with Pilates, it’s not just about looking good…it’s about FEELING good. And practicing Pilates throughout your pregnancy can help you feel your best. It’s a natural stress reliever, and because it stretches while it strengthens, Pilates can actually help relieve some of the aches and pains that women experience throughout pregnancy. It also helps to improve posture, circulation, and nervous system function – things that can get a bit out of whack when you’re expecting.
And the REALLY big bonus of Pilates when it comes to pregnancy? Pilates engages the deepest core, muscles, pelvic floor, hips and spine, which means you develop better muscle strength and memory. Translation: women who regularly practice Pilates prior to and throughout their pregnancies get their post-baby bodies back much faster.
There are modifications to many classic Pilates exercises, and it’s important that you practice with a trained professional (like myself) who can guide you through these modifications, especially as you progress throughout the different trimesters and milestones. Professional Pilates studios also will have special modification equipment that will make your workouts safe and effective. And of course you should consult your doctor before doing any workout when pregnant.
We all feel the effects of time, and want to slow down those effects as much as possible. And it’s no secret that regular exercise can help you look and feel younger, live longer, and enjoy life longer. Pilates in particular is especially effective as both a preventative and restorative measure when it comes to the effects of aging. My clients of all ages reap these benefits, but I have also had a number of clients over 50 turn to Pilates to help them look and feel better. Here are a couple ways Pilates can help slow the aging process and even reverse some of the effects of aging, that might surprise you:
1. Improved Skin Tone and Elasticity: regular Pilates helps improve circulation and bloodflow. The obvious benefits of improved circulation include better heart health and longevity, and can be a preventative measure for many common heart and circulatory problems that can crop up as we get older.
But better circulation can also improve the look of your skin, which is one of the first places people tend to notice the effects of aging. Better blood flow means more nutrients can travel to your skin cells, improving the skin’s elasticity and lessoning the appearance of wrinkles. Better circulation also can help scars, stretch marks, dark spots and lesions heal faster.
And you know those dark circles we get under our eyes – the ones that seem to get darker as we age? Those can actually be in part a product of poor circulation and lack of oxygen to the blood.
2. Bring back that lovin’ feeling: Yeah, I went there. But it’s true, and sexual health is so important – and also something that can suffer a bit as we age. There are the obvious implications of Pilates on our sex life, like increased stamina and flexibility. The improved circulation I mentioned before also plays a big role in fueling desire, for both men and women. But Pilates also can help fight the causes of sexual dysfunction that can often come with age, which can often be caused by a prolapsed uterus or bladder. Because Pilates focuses on the deep muscles of the abdomen and the pelvic floor, it strengths the muscles that support your internal organs, thus helping prevent sexual dysfunction as you age. Plus, the better you feel about your body, the more confident you are, the more likely you’ll be to want to hop in the sack.
The bottom line: age is really just a number if you’re body and mind are in fantastic shape. And there are few better ways to achieve that than through Pilates!
We all know Pilates can help you look your best, but the benefits of adding Pilates to your workout routine go beyond being able to fit into your skinny jeans. Here are are few benefits of doing regular Pilates that you may not think of:
1. It’s a natural energy booster.
Before you reach for that third cup of coffee, consider taking a Pilates break to renew your energy. Because Pilates stimulates the spine and muscles and gets your breath and circulation flowing, it can help give you energy both mentally and physically to help get you through your day.
2. It’s a natural pain reliever.
Do you suffer from chronic back or neck pain? Because Pilates helps improve posture and addresses muscle imbalances that can cause back pain, it can help lessen and eventually eliminate back pain when practiced regularly. Also because Pilates strengthens your core and teaches greater body awareness, those who practice regularly are less likely to get injured.
3. It can help you sleep.
Pilates can help fight stress, which is a major cause of insomnia. That might seem obvious enough, but there have been several scientific studies that point to the fact that those who practice Pilates regularly get a better night sleep than those who do not. It comes back to body awareness as well: if you’re more in tune with your body, studies suggest, you’re more able to let go of stress that might keep you up and relax into dreamland.
What are some unexpected benefits of Pilates that you’ve experienced?